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Aon employees unhappy with scheme's cross-border move

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Employees of Aon Netherlands have expressed concern over the recent decision to move its pension fund to Belgium, despite the workers’ council (OR) still discussing the matter with employers, according to Dutch financial daily FD. 

“We haven’t approved anything, and therefore it is strange that the pension fund already has taken such a decision,” Paul Kabel, the OR’s secretary told FD.

He indicated that there were still worries among the scheme’s participants about the quality of the Belgian pensions system, and added that a lobby group had been established which was still discussing the issue with Aon.

According to the FD, the OR – a statutory representative body of employees – and the employer have different opinions about the scope of the OR’s right of approval.

It cited René Mandos, the pension fund’s chairman, who confirmed that the OR had voiced its concerns to both Dutch supervisor DNB and Belgian regulator FSMA.

Mandos defended the pension fund’s decision, by saying that the accountability organ of representatives of workers and pensioners had unanimously approved a transfer.

However, he stressed that a cross-border move was still subject to the OR’s approval.

Almost a year ago, the Aon scheme announced that it was considering placing its pensions in a Belgian IORP.

It made clear that its intention came after the employer had terminated its contract for pensions provision with its pension fund, and had transferred pensions accrual to a defined contribution plan with an insurer.

For the accrued pension rights under average and final salary plans, “a liquidation of the pension fund, including a collective value transfer, was the most realistic scenario”, the scheme said at the time.

According to the pension fund, the employer preferred a transfer to an IORP in Belgium, which could also house pension rights from its Belgian staff, and possibly other European countries.

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